Conference helps international students explore career opportunities

students and staff standing in a line

 By Rachel Berry

Miami University held its first ever Career Discovery Conference for International Students on Saturday, Nov. 16. The conference included presentations from current undergraduate and graduate students speaking about their experiences with research, internships, jobs, and other similar opportunities.

Eun Chong Yang, associate director of the American Culture and English (ACE) program, first thought of the idea this past summer. Through interactions with international students, she realized many of them were focused on earning a high GPA but weren’t aware of what else they needed to do to prepare them for the internship or job search.

Yang reached out to Tekeia Howard, associate director of diversity initiatives and on-demand career advising, and together, they began planning a conference to present international students with career advice.

Yang said while Miami University does a good job of providing resources for international students, many students don’t know about these opportunities or don’t know how to access them.

Yang and Howard asked for applications from students interested in presenting at the conference.

“Allowing students to hear from students is really important, and allowing students to see others at their best being their best is really important,” Howard said. Sometimes students believe they need to hear from the experts to validate and inform their next steps on their journey. For me, it is powerful for me to say to students ‘the person next to you, your roommate is actually the expert.’”

The conference also focused on diversity, trying to find students from a variety of countries, fields of study, and work experiences.

Woo Suk (Alex) Kwon, a senior from South Korea, was one of the presenters at the conference. He said he wished Miami had something similar when he was an underclassman.

“I really love helping people,” Kwon said. “I understand people’s situation — their desperate need for someone, an international student who already went through the process. They want advice, and that’s the same thing I wanted when I was looking for jobs.”

The student presenters were also fully involved in the planning and advertising process, which gave them experience and something to add to their resume, Yang said.

The students in the audience ranged from first-years in the ACE program to seniors and graduate students on their own job searches. After each student spoke, many people in the audience asked questions, and many approached them during breaks as well.

Senior Diwen Chen came to hear a presentation on medical research, a field he is interested in.

“It shows that the school wants to help us, and it opens more doors for international students to explore,” Chen said. “It just makes me feel like [Miami is] a very inclusive place for international students to be successful in the future.”

Yang and Howard said they hope to continue the conference and expand it in the future, with more participation from students at the regional campuses.